HOPE IS MY MIDDLE NAME
“Hope is my middle name. Really. Growing up I hated it. I wished my parents had chosen a normal middle name for me rather than an aspirational noun. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. It is a gift to have this promise, this uplift as part of my name.” ~ Rabbi Gayle Hope Pomerantz
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This was a banner week for Temple Beth Sholom’s Social Justice Network Advocacy. It started off on Sunday, Purim, when we collected 50 letters to Florida Senators Garcia and Flores protesting Senate Bill 140, which would permit open carry on campuses, schools and airports. We have now sent in over 150 letters.
On Monday, a small group of us met with Blaire Freedman, Sandy Hook Promise’s Miami representative. We were pleased to learn that Miami is the only city in the country that has approved a Sandy Hook Promise curriculum being taught in every middle and high school in our county, promoting a “Know the Signs” program and “Say Something.” This is the first year it has been rolled out in our public schools. Temple Beth Sholom’s School for Living Judaism will participate in a modified awareness curriculum in April. Watch this powerful Sandy Hook Promise video here: http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/prevention_programs.
Tuesday, a group of TBS activists visited Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps and Police Chief Noriega of North Bay Village to ask them to sign onto our Do Not Stand Idly By Campaign (http://donotstandidlyby.org/), in which we are partnering with other Miami Reform synagogues. Thus far we have met with 7 Mayors, 6 who have agreed to our request. This campaign seeks to exert market pressure on gun manufacturers to explore safe gun technology and crack down on gun dealers who are not accountable. After our group made their powerful presentation, Mayor Leon-Kreps happily signed on to our request.
Wednesday brought us to Republican Senator Flores’ Miami office to thank her for opposing the open carry bill. Since all 5 Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were needed to bring SB 140 to a full Senate vote, this bill is now dead for at least another year. Senator Flores’ opposition took enormous courage and conviction. Her assistant, Tiffany, told us that since she took a stand her office has been overrun with phone calls of people both thanking her and others threatening her life. In this week that we honored Queen Esther for taking great risks to save her people, it felt important to thank Senator Flores in person for protecting Florida’s children, even at her own peril.
Today (Thursday), we learned that the Florida legislature is poised to expand the Stand Your Ground law, making it easier for someone to claim self-defense after shooting someone. If this is done, Florida would become the first stand to put the onus on prosecutors rather than defenders. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/us/stand-your-ground-florida.html?_r=0
To learn more about what you can do to prevent gun violence in our community, attend one of our 2 remaining Justice Jams on April 25th or May 17th http://www.tbsmb.org/social-justice/awareness/, be part of the Nehemiah Action, PACT’s largest action event of the year on March 27th, our Justice Town Hall meeting on May 10th or the theatrical choral and hip hop music project: Trigger: A Project of (Be)Longing which will be held at TBS on Sunday, April 23rd at 2 pm. This free and engaging presentation, sponsored by Miami Dade College, was created to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. It is part presentation, part discussion. RSVP here: https://tbs.wufoo.com/forms/trigger-a-project-of-belonging/
Every day that passes is another opportunity to learn and to act. We hope our gun violence prevention initiative will trigger your activism.